“It was agreed by all the [area] pastors that the crime problem [is due to] the erosion of family values and morals.” Crime problem solved. Via the Washington Post:
Jail or Jesus. These are the options that one Alabama town is giving its non-violent offenders.
The program is called Operation Restore Our Community, WKRG reports. Bay Minette citizens charged with a misdemeanor can choose spending a year’s worth of Sundays in a local church rather than paying a fine and sitting in the clink.
Town police chief Mike Rowland…told the Alabama Press-Register: “It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”
The stark choice has civil libertarians asking whether the initiative could be seen as government-coerced religion, which is forbidden under American law. The American Civil Liberties Union called the program “blatantly unconstitutional.”
One of the 56 participating pastors, Robert Gates, put that feeling into more biblical terms, telling WKRG, “You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I’ll show you a person who won’t be a problem to society.”
No mosques or synagogues are participating in the program because they do not exist in the area, according to the Press-Register.